Enough shale gas is lying under South Wales to supply the whole of Britain for the next 16 years, Assembly Members have been told.
But extracting that natural resource could lead to “catastrophe” for the nation, according to environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth.
The Senedd’s Environment and Sustainability Committee has heard evidence on the controversial method of shale gas extraction commonly known as fracking.
Among those addressing the committee was Gerwyn Williams, director of Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd – the group applying to test drill in south Wales.
Mr Williams said a report from one US consultant based in Dallas showed there is over 50 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lying under one part of south Wales.
He said: “The UK currently uses around 3.5 trillion cubic feet each year so we already know that we have 16 years of energy lying under south Wales.
“But we have only just scratched the surface.
“We now know that through similar methods America has a 100-year gas supply, there is no reason why we cannot be in the same position.
“There is a big prize for everyone in Wales if this works.”
In December companies wanting to drill for shale gas in South Wales received a major boost when a ban on exploration was lifted.